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l^arbartr College iilrrars 

:£)suor. 3^. VScrvU- 


t ^ftj^ no\ 





Rector of St. Margaret's, 

— AND — 




Annotated and Edited 

Secretary of the Essex Institute, Salern. Mass.; Secretary of 

the Topsfield [Mass.) Historical Society; Member of 

the Americaq Historical Association. 

Roprinttd from the Topsfield, Mats., 250th Anniversary Preooodings. 





For the last six months I have been trying to gather 
material for a sketch of the history of ancient Toppesfield. 
The work would be by no means easy even for an expert, 
for there appear to have been no previous workers in this 
field, from whom to gather without toil that which must in 
the first instance have been discovered at the cost of much 
time and labour. 

Of course the chronicler has the old records on the 
tombs, the old account books, as well as the old registers, 
which he can always consult, and which probably would 
reveal tales of deepest interest to any one who has leisure to 
study them, and experience and skill to understand the 
meaning of that which is written in these old-world records, 
but the present writer confesses with sorrow that ev^n had 
he the time to spare he has not got the skill ; but he hopes 
that he is no dog in the manger; so should any one (and 
especially any one interested in the connection between 
Topsfield and Toppesfield) wish to work up all that can be 
learned from these original documents, he may count on being 
met with the heartiest welcome, and the fullest help that can 
be rendered. 



As then, (in the absence of other men's writings from 
which to steal, and of ability to make original researches) 
it is impossible to write any account of ancient Toppesfield 
which shall not be of an imaginative rather than an historical 
character, I have thought that perhaps some short account 
of the Toppesfield of to-day might be of interest. 

The village is situated in the north-eastern corner of the 
County of Essex, near to the borders of Suffolk on the east, 
and of Cambridgeshire on the north ; the country is not by 
any means of the level character that is usually attributed to 
the whole of Essex. There are no great hills but there is no 
flat country ; all is undulating. Toppesfield itself — whatever 
the origin of its name — certainly by its position deserves its 
designation; the church does not stand on the highest 
ground in the parish, but yet its tower serves for a land-mark 
for miles around, on all sides except the west, on which side 
a wood screens it from view ; while in the parish about two 
miles in a southerly direction from the church, is found the 
highest point in this part of the county, excelled in the 
whole county only, if at all, by Danbury Hill near Chelms- 

The soil is almost uniformly clay, and very good for 
wheat growing, and its fertility is such that even in the present 
time of agricultural depression there is not an unoccupied 
acre in the parish. Yet it must not for a moment be sup- 
posed that Toppesfield has escaped unscathed; very far 
from it. Thirty years ago it was as rich and prosperous a 
little place as could be found ; now it is miserably poverty- 
stricken ; then, there were numbers of well-to-do farmers, 
now, the land is farmed in large holdings by men who, for the 
most part, live in neighbouring villages ; then, many of the 
old houses dotted about the parish were occupied by large 
and thriving families ; now, the families have gone and many 
of the houses are either occupied by labourers (e.g. Olivers, 
Cust Hall and Fry's Hall) or are falling into decay as 
"Mullows" has done. The impossibility of making a living 
off the land, has driven the descendants of sturdy yeomen to 
seek elsewhere, the livelihood which the ground their fathers 
tilled, can no longer afford them. 

Nor is the lot of the labourer better than that of the 


farmer; though the cause of the trouble is in his case differ- 
ent; for farm labourers wages, have this year stood higher 
than they have ever been known to be before. But in the 
old days the daughters and wife would earn more than the 
father, and would do so without being necessarily taken away 
from home ; even thirty years ago, straw plaiting was a great 
industry in this part of England. Old crones maintained 
themselves in comparative comfort by holding "schools" in 
which infants of quite tender years were taught to plait, and, 
as the chil4ren grew up, they plaited as they stood in their 
cottage doors or as they lolled about the roads, and their 
work was every week collected by higglers who came round 
for the purpose. All this has come to an end now; no straw 
plait is made here for it can be more cheaply imported from 
the East than it can be made at home ; and though the 
money that was earned in this way is much missed, yet the 
village is happier and better for the loss of this business, for 
straw plaiting always seemed — wherever it was done — to 
bring a moral deterioration in its train. 

There is however an indirect way in which the agricul- 
tural depression seriously affects the labourer ; it makes it 
very difficult for him to get a decent cottage. The profits 
of farming having been so much reduced, the farmers have 
been unable to pay anything like the old amount of rent and 
this has hit the land-owning class very hard ; in some cases 
the depreciation of the value of land has been so great that 
its capital value now is little more than its old annual rent ; 
plenty of good land can now be bought for £t, an acre and 
in this price are sometimes included farm houses and out- 
buildings and cottages which have quite recently cost more 
than now they can fetch, even with the freehold of the land 
thrown in; small pieces of land without buildings fetch 
(except for some special reason) even lower prices. I heard 
last week of thirteen acres of good land in an adjoining 
parish being sold for no more than £/^o. 

The landlords then, being so hard hit in all cases, and 
sometimes having positively no balance left after they have 
paid the **charges** on the estate (doweries it may be or pen- 
sions determined upon during the fat years of prosperity) are 
unwilling, even when, through having other sources of income, 


they are able, to spend more money than can be helped, on 
the up-keep of their farm buildings and the cottages on 
their farms ; hence on every side the barns and out-buildings 
are more or less dilapidated, (though it must be owned that 
in this respect there has been a considerable improvement 
during the last two years) hence too the refusal to repair 
old cottages, so that cottage after cottage is condemned by 
the medical officer of health as unfit or unsafe for human 
habitation, and the inhabitants of the condemned cottages 
are obliged to seek their living elsewhere than in the old 
parish. As for new cottages, none have been built lately 
and none are likely to be built, for if the landlords cannot 
build them no one else will except from philanthropic motives, 
for it would be difficult to get a nett return of two per cent, 
on the minimum cost of erection. 

The necessary results of such a condition of things are 
easily understood; the best of the young men go off to the 
towns, and there gain their living; many of them become 
policeman or employes on the railways; others become 
soldiers ; the young women go out to domestic service and 
so the village is left with the old people and the young chil- 
dren to inhabit it. The proportion of the old is something 
remarkable ; that the climate is extremely healthy and that 
longevity is much more common here than in most places, 
may have a little to do with it, but fails altogether to account 
for the wonderful proportion of old people in the population ; 
no, the reason is that the young men and women as soon as 
they grow up go off elsewhere to seek a better market for 
their labour; and while we regret losing them, and fear that 
many of the men like the married man of the story find the 
change **none for the better and all for the worse," there can 
be no doubt that the course they take is the one which must 
seem most reasonable to those who have no knowledge of 
the condition of unskilled labour in the great towns. The 
extent to which this exodus is reducing the population of the 
parish may be judged from the fact that while in 1831 there 
were 1088 inhabitants; in 1881 there were 861 ; in 1891 790, 
and in 1901 there is no doubt that there will be a still further 
reduction. It is impossible to form an accurate estimate, 
but I should guess the number at 650, basing my calculation 


on the number of children on the school books, which is now 
ii'S. while in 1891 it was 146. I am glad to say, however, 
that the average number in attendance for this year is higher 
than it was then, for while in 1891 the average was 1 1 1, it is 
for the time that has passed since the beginning of the cur- 
rent school year on April ist last* 113, which we are proud 
to consider would be a remarkable performance for any school, 
but which is highly creditable in a parish where some of the 
scholars live two and one-half miles away from the school 
door. The school is a voluntary school supported by a 
voluntary rate of 46 in the £1, in addition of course to the 
Government grant ; the total cost for a scholar in average 
attendance being about £2. 10. o. per annum ; the buildings 
are good and roomy, and would accommodate nearly double 
the present number of scholars. In the school is also held 
an evening continuation school for young men which was 
begun this year and which has been doing fairly well. In 
this same building are held the meetings of the members of 
what is known as "the school club," an excellent Benefit 
Society, a branch of the National Deposit Friendly Society. 
The Toppesfield branch started some fifteen years ago by 
the then Rector, the Rev. C. F. Taylor, has over 100 mem- 
bers ; many of them however are now living in distant parts 
and some come from neighbouring villages. Toppesfield 
has reason to feel proud of its school and of its Benefit 

Near the School is the church which is dedicated to St. 
Margaret; the tower looks imposing from a distance but 
when examined more closely proves to be a rather poor 
specimen of the architecture of the beginning of the eighteenth 
century ; there was an old tower, the inside of which must 
have opened on to the church, with a lofty early English 
arch, and which is said to have been built of flint and rubble ; 
this fell down on July 4th 1689, and was replaced by the 
present structure of brick ; the tower contains five bells, two 
of which however need recasting. The church consists of a 
chancel, nave, and south aisle with a gallery at the west end, 
against the tower. The chancel contains an interesting old 

. *It is onlj fair to state, that dnrinff the months April, Ma/ and Jane, there were ten more chil- 
dren en the books, bat the average weekly percentage of cnlldreB present is, for this year, over 


tomb surmounted with a cross, built half in and half out of 
the south wall. There is no inscription on the tomb, and it 
is not known to whom it belongs. In the floor is an old 
brass, bearing the fig^ures of a man and woman, and witih the 

Pray for the sowlys of John Cracherowd and Agnes his 
wyff : the whyche John decesyd the yere of Our Lord 
God 1513, upon whose sowl Christ have mercy. 

Near to this there is another brass plate with the inscription : 

Here lyeth buryed William Cracherod, Gent, who died 
Xth of January 1585, and Eliz : his wyfe the XVIIth of 
Feb. 1587. 

Near to this again there is a tomb, with a full-sized effigy of 
a man, bearing no inscription, but probably containing an 
earlier member of the same family of Cracherod. 

On the walls of the chancel are commonplace memorials 
of three former Rectors,* and two memorials of ladies which 
may be worth transcribing ; on the north wall there is a 
marble monument bearing various symbolical devicesf and 
this inscription : 

* Against the east wall of the chancel is a small mural monument, 
upon which is written as follows: — £eo Richardus King, patria Here- 
fordiensis, educatione Oxoniensi, pofessione theologus, officio capel- 
loneus Jacob! Regis ferenissimi & hujus ecclesiae vicarius indignus, 
hoc in loco sacrosancto sponte depono & recondo corporis exuvias 
laus Deo, salus ecclesiae, & animae meae requies in aetemum. Amen. 
[For illustration of this tablet, see. The Ancient Sepulchral Monuments 
of Essex. By Frederic Chancellor, p. 325, London, 1890.] 

In English: — I Richard King, by country an Herefordshireman, by 
education an Oxonian, bv profession a divine, by office a chaplain to king 
James and the unwortny vicar of this church, willingly deposit my 
remains in this sacred place. — Praise be to God, health to the church, 
and rest to my soul for ever. Amen. — History of Essex (G?.). By a 
Gentleman, Ckelmsfordt 1 77 1 . 

fTwo Bibles serve the office of trusses, upon which are two rows of 
books, that instead of two pilasters support a neat pediment, in the 
middle of which pediment is a beehive, and under the hive is written 
• indultria dulcis, meaning stveet industry. Over the hive is placed a 
dove, with the words fida simplex (imparting simple fidelity) written 
below it. Six of the books which compose the pilasters are labelled 
thus: — Sacrae medit; Soliloquia; Publ. Preq Praxis Pict; Flores Prac; 
Psalmi. — History of Essex {Co^ By a Gentleman. Chelmsford^ ^77i» 



Sacrum memorioe pientiss* foeminoe Dorcadi (sic) 

Guil Smyth armigeri; qui eam prius viduam Guil. 

Bigg triumq 
liberor matre, ob modestia, pietate prudentia singulare 
duxit ; et in familia prosapia celebre traduxit ; ubi multos 
annos ille, spendidoe hospitalitatis iet candoris, ilia 
solertiae fideique matronalts exemplar ; clara omnibusq 
nobilib' oeque ac infimis chara stii memoria reliqueru 
Laudatiss" avioe suae, sacra senecta lectione, meditatione 
bonisq operibus indefesse consolanti tandeq inter in- 

sanctissimae animae gaudia ultro in coelu avolanti H. Bigg 
neposhisce symbolis parentat et lachrymis. Hoc pago 

nupta ; Cressingce, mortua, sepulta. 

Obiit 1663. Dec. 18 anno aetat ^6^ 

*In English: — Sacred to the memory of that very pious woman Dorcas 
the wife of William Smith, esquire; who married her, when the widow 
of William Bigg and the mother of three children, for her singular 
modesty, piety, and prudence; and placed her in a family of great 
eminence; wherein, he was many years a brieht pattern of hospitality 
and goodness; she, of diligence and conjugal fidelity; persons of every 
rank held her in great esteem: the memory of them was dear to all who 
knew them. H.Bigg makes an offering of this and of his tears to his 
much esteemed grandmother, who incessantly comforted her old a^e, by 
reading the holy scriptures, b^ meditation, and bv acts of |;oodness; 
and who, at length amidst the inconceivable joys 01 a most pious aoul, 
willingly winged her way to heaven. She was Drought up and married 
in this town: she died and was buried at Cressing. She departed this 
life December 18, 1633, in the 76th year of her age. Beneath this 
inscription is the figure of a lamb placed upon a bible, upon which is 
written these words: Biblia fides sacra^ which mean, Faith in the Holy 
Bible: on one side the bible is the representation of a bleeding heart, as 
fifi;urativeof her feelings for the distressed poor: on the other side is that 
of an expanded hand; doubtless as a symbol of her readiness always to 
assist them. The whole is prettily designed, and executed in a masterly 
manner. — History 0/ Essex\Co.), By a Gentleman, Chelmsford^ lyyi. 


On the South wall is a memorial of a young lady of eighteen : 

Her disposition was mild and benevolent 

her manners gentle and simple 

and most respectfully obliging 

her sentiments enlarged and liberal 

her understanding clear and comprehensive 

enriched with an uncommon extent and variety 

of attainments, of which she was so far 

from making an ostentatious display 

that she seemed unconscious she possessed them 

nay, the degrading conceptions she unhappily formed 

of her own worth moral and intelectual (sic) 

were probably the source of insupportable sufferings 

"The brain too nicely wrought 

Preys on itself and is destroyed by thought." 

One cannot but wonder whether the young lady overburdened 
by the marvellous talents of which she was unaware sought 
relief in suicide. 

The South aisle has a fine old oak carved roof, the date 
of which can be determined (by the combination of the 
pomegranite and the rose found on it) to be about the year 
1500. At the east end of the aisle there used to be a window 
with fine old glass, but it having been found necessary, some 
half century ago, to build a vestry out beyond the aisle, the 
glass in the window was removed and left about to perish ! 
this is not the only loss — caused by neglect or ignorance — 
that we have occasion to deplore. At the east end of this 
aisle there can be seen on one side a piscina, showing that 
an alter once stood there, and in the other, high up in the 
wall, the entrance to the rood loft of which no other trace 
now remains. The font, which stands in the aisle, has no 
other interest than such as is derived from its great age. 
The body of the church has nothing to recommend it, the 
seats are mean looking and uncomfortable for use, the pulpit 
is commonplace, the west gallery (in which, in the good old 
days of even fifty years ago or less, sat the performers on the 
fiddles and the flutes) is Jacobean, but while all built of oak 
is faced on its pillars with carved oak ; the great oak beams 
which span the nave are similarly cased, and unhappily 



neither they nor the roof are in a sound condition. The 
right of appointing the Rector rests with the Crown; there 
were here at one time both a Rectory (which then was a 
sinecure) and a Vicarage ; but the Bishop of London, about 
I4S4, finding that the Vicarage had become too poor to 
maintain a clergyman, united the Vicarage to the Rectory. 
There is still a piece of the Glebe land known as '*the vicarage," 
which forms a memorial of the old state of things. 

The names are known of all the clergy of the Parish 
since 1300: 


John Hardy.* 
William de Grytton. 
John Cory. 
William Noble. 
William Barret. 
Thomas Haxeye.* 
Thomas Banaster.* 
William Gray. 
Nicholas Manvell. (died) 
William Breden.* 
John Hambalt. 
William Parker. 








1 571. William Redman, D. D. 

1578. William Whiting. 

1598. Edward Graunt, D. D. 

1601. William Smyth.* 

1603. Theodore Beacon, M. D. 

1604. Randolph Davenport, B. D. 

1605. Richard Kinge, D. D. 







William (died) 
Stephen le Parker. 
John Hokyngton.* 
William Lambeleye or 
John Cukkowe. 
William Mersey. 
Richard Pumpy.* 
John Scarlette.* 
William Mevr. 
John Peteville, 
Henry Huyton. 



William Parker. 
John Edenham or 

Ednam, D. D. 

Thomas Fermyn. (died) 
Adam Becansawe. 
Thomas Donnell, B. D. 
Cuthbert Hagerston, M. A. 
Thomas Havard. 
Richard Wjrnne. 
Thomas Donnell, B. D. 

Preferred. Dean of Stoke; Canon 
of St. Paul's ; Master of Corpus 

Agent of Thomas Cromwell. 

Restored. Prebendary of Lich- 

Preferred. Canon of Canterbury ; 
Bishop of Norwich. 

Canon of Ely ; Sub-Dean of West- 

Chaplain to James I. 

* Resigned. 



1621. Richard Senhouse, D. D. Dean of Gloucester; Bishop of 

1624. Lawrence Burnell, D. D. Chaplain to Charles I. 

1 647-1 661. No rector. Thomas Overhead intruded. 

1 661. Clement Thurston, M. A. 

1662. Nathaniel Ward, M. A. 

1662. Edgar WoUey, D. D. Bishop of Clonfert. 

1664. Richard CoUebrand, D. D. Dean of Bocking. 

1674. Robert Wild, M. A. Chaplain of the Rolls. 

1691. Thomas Willett, M. A. 

1735* John Hume, D. D. Bishop of Bristol, Salisbury and 


1749. Samuel Squire, D. D., F. Dean of Bristol; Bishop of St. 

R. S., F. S. A. David's. 

1750. Henry Herring, M. A. 
1772. George Pawson, L. L. B. 

1797. Lord Henry Fitzroy, M. A. Canon of Westminster. 
1828. George Henry Gooch, M. A. 
1 876. John Sherron Brewer, M. A. 


Since the death of which distinguished man in 1879 there 
have been five other Rectors. 

In the Church and Churchyard many of these worthies 
lie buried, but none of their memorial stones are worth copy- 
ing. There is one stone however near the Tower which 
records that: 

Here lieth the body of . 
Sarah Norfolk wife of 
Samuel Norfolk the younger 
who was cruelly murdered by 
her husband Septr. 24 1775 at 
a farm call'd Elms in this Parish 
in the 2Sth year of her age 
The said Samuel Norfolk 
confessed the fact 
was hang'd and desected 

The Parish registers date back to 1558 and are in a good 
state of preservation and fairly legible to those who have 
mastered the difficulties of the old form of writing ; there are 
also old account books dating back to 1662, and deeds of an 
earlier date. 


On the first page of the earliest register is written in 
Latin and in English, the doggrel rhymes : 

Advent wills thee to contein 

But Hilarie sets thee free again 

Septuagesima said thee nay 

But eight from Easter says you may 

Rogation bids thee yet to tarrie 

But Trinity gives thee leave to marrie. 

The baptisms, marriages and burials are entered in separate 
parts of the book but mistakes occur every now and then, 
so that a marriage is entered among the funerals. 

Near the church stand the two village inns, the Chestnuts, 
and The Green Man, both of them picturesque in appearance. 
The Green Man is as quaint and old-fashioned as it is com- 
fortable and well-managed. The host, Mr. Charles Seaman, 
has held his house for over forty years, and it is commonly 
said that there is not an hotel in any of the neighbouring 
towns for miles round where guests are made so comfortable 
or where a dinner so well cooked and served can be had. 

Standing back in a park-like meadow is the old Manor 
House known as Berwick Hall ; a nice comfortable house, 
with some old oak in it, inhabited by Mr. Charles Darby, 
whose family name has been known in Toppesfield for some 
three centuries at least. 

Beyond the "Park" of Berwick Hall is the Rectory, part 
of which also is very old, dating back to the 14th century. 
There are traces of a moat round both Berwick Hall and the 
Rectory. Two years ago (1898) a very fine oak ceiling with 
large. moulded beams, and an old oak doorway, were discov- 
ered in one of the rooms, having previously been covered up 
with plaister and canvas. The Rectory is very sheltered on 
all sides being enclosed by well-grown trees and with a large 
old Tithe Barn lying on its north side. 

About half a mile from the Rectory on the road to 
Yeldham, stands "Olivers," with a beautiful approach through 
an avenue ; it is now inhabited by two labourers ; there is a 
panelled room still in an excellent state of preservation 
though the woodwork has been unfortunately covered with 


Toppesfield Hall, which like Olivers, belongs to Mr. J. 
M. Balls, stands on the other side of the Yeldham road ; it is 
a comfortable modern house inhabited by Mr. J. F. Benson, 
one of the church-wardens, who is a nephew of the proprietor. 

Bradfields is a picturesque house lying rather low, and 
in a rather dilapidated condition. 

Gainsfords is another old Manor house about two miles 
from the church, occupied by Mr. C. Dean Darby, a son of 
Mr. Darby of Berwick Hall ; it also has some nice oak. 

Flowers Hall, about another mile beyond Gainsfords, is 
another nice-looking house, not very large, but with a won- 
derful range of out-buildings ; it is now occupied by Mr. 
Clarke who with his family of active sons gets excellent results 
from some of the least fertile land in the parish. 

I have given as fair a description as I can of the 
Toppesfield of today. What is its future to be? there is I 
think but little doubt. London is but fifty miles off, though 
thanks to the bad railway accommodation it takes two hours 
to get there. The Londoner is more and more developing a 
love for a country residence, and when the favourite counties 
of Kent, Surrey and Sussex get filled up, as they are doing 
already, those who like quiet will go further afield. Auto- 
mobilism, or electric railways, will make travelling easy, and 
then this corner of Essex with its healthy climate, its quiet 
beauty, its fertile soil, its fine oaks and other trees will attract 
the class of persons who want a nice house and a few acres 
of land. Then land will again fetch in this district ten times 
what it fetches now ; then there will be plenty of employment 
in stables, gardens and pleasure farms for the men who now 
flock into the towns. But this will not be in my day. But 
even now Toppesfield is a pleasant happy place with inhab- 
itants who are not very fond of strangers, but who are 
essentially good-hearted. 






This parish* was so called from some Saxon owner, 
named Topa, or Toppa. It is otherwise written in records — 
Toppesfend, Toppesford, Thopefield. In Edward the Con- 
fessor's reign, some of the lands here belonged to freemen, 
named Alestan ; to Duua ; to Got, &c., but, at the time of 
the general survey, part was holden by Eustace, Earl of Bo- 
logne, and his under-tenant, Bernard ; part by one Ralph ; 
and a considerable share, called afterwards Camoys-hall, by 
Hamo Dapifer. 

These lands were divided, soon after, into the following 
maners: — ^The maner of Berwick and Scoteneys; Gaynes- 
fords; The maner of Husees ; Cust-hall; The maner of Cam- 
oys, and the maners, or reputed maners, of Flowers-hall, 
Gobions, Hawkeshall, and Bradfield. Most of these, if not 
all, are Duchy lands, and belonged to the honor of Clare. 

*Is of large extent, fruitful in its soil, and pleasant in its situation, 
but not being a great thoroughfare, the roads hereabouts are in general 
heavy and narrow. The village is but small and rather mean in appear- 
ance. History of Essex Co, By a Gentleman, Chelmsford^ lyyi. 

This parish extends northward to Great Yeldham ; to Finching- 
field on the west ; southward to Wethersfield, and on the east, to the 
Hedinshams. Distant from Clare, five, and from London, fifty miles. 
The village is small, and none of the roads passing through this district 
being leading thoroughfares, they are in general narrow, and not in very 
good repair. The soil is a deep tenacious marl, retentive of moisture, 
and universally requires draining. Wrights^ History of Essex County, 
London, 1836. 

TOPPESFIELD. A. 3332; P. 861; Rectory, value j^9oo; 2 m. SW. 
from Yeldham; B. 6. A pleasant, retired vil^ge on a commanding emi- 




They were separate at first, but have been long united, 
and took their names from their respective ancient owners, as 
will appear in the sequel. Berwick-hall stands a little way- 
south-west from the church. The mansion-house and lands 
of Scoteneys lie near Yeldham, about half a mile from Ber- 
wick-hall. These two constitute the chief maner in this 
parish, though not the largest. In King John's reign, Albrey 
de Wic, or Wykes, held this estate, of the honor of Bologne, 
by the service of three parts of a Knight' s-fee. He sold it to 
Gerebert de St. Clere; it being then called 84 acres of arable, 

3 acres of meadow and pasture, 4 acres of wood, 45 pence 
rent of assize yearly, 49 days work, and ten hens. Part of 
the estate, viz. : 8 acres of arable, 5 of meadow, 4 of wood, 
&c., were holden of Ralph de Camoys. 

Scoteneys was then distinct from it, and belonged to Wal- 
ter de Scoteney^ a Baron, who had also the maner of Hersham. 
But, for giving poison to Richard Earl of Clare, whose Stew- 
ard he was, and to William, his brother, of which the latter 
died, he was hanged in 1259; and his estate, most probably, 
given to John de Berewyk, who died in 13 12; holding the 
the maner of Toppesfield, of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Glou- 
cester, by the service of one Knight's-fee ; and his heir was 
Roger, son of John Huse ; more particularly mentioned under 
the maner of Husees. From him it came to Tho, Rykedon ; 

nence, 280 ft. above the sea. The Church (St. Margaret) is of brick, and 
has a nave, S. aisle of four bays, chancel, and embattled brick tower with 

4 comer pinnacles and 5 bells; 3 dated 1675; one 1720; and one 1779. 
The body was built in 15 19, the tower in i6p9. In the chancel are mural 
tablets to Dorcas Smyth (1633); Robert Wildes (1690X rector: Thomas 
Willitt (1731X rector; the Rev. Georee Pawson(i797); and Elizabeth Erie 
(1655); also an uninscribed altar-tomb, on the S. side of the chancel, with 
floriated cross, probablv to the founder of the church; and brasses to 
Wm. Cracherod, gent. (1585X and wife; and to John Cracherod (1534), and 
wife. There is a&o a fine incised stone, with an effigr of a cross-legged 
knight in armour, and a 14th century inscription to Tnomas le Despen- 
ser. In the chancel is a piscina and another in the nave. The font is a 
rude, ancient one. The re^sters date from 1559. The women and chil- 
dren in tills parish are partially engaged in straw-plaiting. Essex {Co*) 
Handbooky by Miller Christy* London, 1887. 


The Parish[ Pump. Aq Old Resident. 

The Winding Street. 

St. Margaret's Tower. Berwick Hail 


and Robert Rykedon and others sold it, in 1420, to yohn 
Dorewardy of Bocking, Esq., who, at the time of his decease, 
in the said year, held the maners and other lands, &c., called 
Berewyk, Scoteneys, and Cardeaux, in Toppesfield, the two 
Yeldhams, Mapiltrested, Haverill, Hengham Sible, and else- 
where. John, his son, succeeded him ; and held this maner, 
with the lands, tenements, rents, and services, called Berwykes, 
Scoteneys, and Cardeaux, that composed the maner of Top- 
pesfield, of Cecily, Duchess of York, as of her maner of 
Stamburne. He died in 1476. John Doreward, of Great 
Yeldham, Esq., held the same at the time of his death,, the 
last day of February 1496 ; and Christian^ his neice, brought 
it, in marriage, to her husband, John de VerCy the 14th Earl 
of Oxford on whom it was settled, in case of failure of issue, 
and on his heirs forever. In this noble family it continued, 
till Edward [the 17th] Earl of Oxford sold it [he having 
squandered away his various estates] 1st October 1584, to 
William Bigge, of Redgewell; who died possessed of it, Sth 
January 1585, and of Gounces, Brownes Farm, Broad-oake, 
with other estates adjoining. By his wife, Dorcas, daughter 
of John MoQteham, of this parish, Gent.,* he had William, 
Samuel, Edward^ and Dorcas. William^ the eldest son, 
who lived at Redfens in Shalford, held several parcels of 
land in this parish, belonging to the adjoining estate of 
Gunces ; but Edward^ the younger son had the maners of 
Berwick-hall and Scoteneys. Edward^ his son, kept his first 
Court here on the 8th of October 1635. 

In 1645, it came into the possession of Robert Jacob, 
Gent, and, in 1651, into that of John Blackmore, Esq. On 
the 23d of April 1658, Robert Wankfordy Esq., kept his first 
Court here. He had two daughters by his first wife ; and by 
his second ; Robert, baptized 12th June 1631 ; and Samuel, i8th 
December 1632. Robert, his eldest son, seated at Berwick- 
hall, married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Thomas Shelley, 
of Magdalen-Lavor in this county; and had by her, Berwick, 

*She was remarried to William Smyth, of Cressing-Temple, Esq. 
and dying i8th December 1633, ^^ buried at Cressing. But her grand- 
son, Henry Bigge, Esq. erected a curious monument to her memory in 
the chancel of St. Marsarets. 

For illustration of this tablet, see. The Ancient Sepulchral Monu- 
ments of Essex, By Frederic Chancellor^ p. 325, London^ 1890. 


who died young ; Robert^ Walter, Shelley ; and seven daugh- 
ters ; of whom, Anne was married to John EUiston of Over- 
hall in Gestingthorp, and afterwards to George Gent, Esq. 
Mary was wife of John Littel, of London, druggist ; and the 
youngest, of Thomas Todd, of Sturmere. He died in 1688. 
Robert, his eldest surviving son, had no issue by his first 
wife, Dorothy, daughter of John Fotherby, of Rickmans- 
worth in Hertfordshire, Esq. ; but by his second wife, Mary, 
daughter of the Rev. John Oseley, Rector of Pantfeild, 
&c., he had several children. He was buried here on the 
20th of June, 1708. 

Some time after, the maners and demesnes of Berwicks, 
Scoteneys, and Gaynesfords, coming into the hands of Mr. 
John Poultnor, Attorney at Law, at Clare, he sold them to 
Isaac Helbutt, a rich merchant ; from whom they passed to 
Moses Hart, and to Wulph Ridolphus, or, as some call him, 
Michael Adolphus, Esq. 


Just now mentioned, took its name from an ancient fam- 
ily, who had also Gobions in this parish, Ashwell-hall in 
Finchinglield, NichoUs in Shaldford, &c. Richard Gayn- 
fordy who died 20th May 1484, held lands in this parish, 
which we suppose to be these. His brother John succeeded 
him. William Butcher held this capital messuage, and 24 
acres of land, in Queen Elizabeth's reign. June 14, 1669, 
Thomas Guyver, with Samuel Edwards and Margaret his 
wife, daughter of Francis Guyver, sold this capital messuage 
to Robert Wankford\ from whom they passed as above. 
Gaynesfords is near two miles south-west from the church. 


Roger, son of John Huse, upon the death of John de 
Berewyk in 13 12, inherited this estate, to which he gave 
name. This Roger sprung from the ancient family of Huse 
in Wiltshire and Dorsetshire ; was a great soldier ; became 
a knight; had summons to Parliament in 1348 and 1349, 
and died in 1361 ; being seated at Barton Stacy, in Hamp- 
shire. John, his son, succeeded him. In 141 9, Alexander 


Eustace and John Wood sold this estate to John Symonds. 
Henry Parker, of Gosfeild, Esq. who died isth January 
1541, held this messuage, called Hosees, and 80 acres of 
arable and meadow, of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, in 
socage ; besides other parcels here,* and great estates else- 
where. Roger, his son, succeeded him. WUliam Cratchrode, 
junior, held this maner in 1585. About the latter end 
of Queen Elizabeth, it was holden by John Alston, of 
Belchamp Oton, who gave it to his third son, Matthew ; and 
and he having no issue, bequeathed it to Thomas Cracherode ; 
of whom it was purchased by Colonel Stephen Piper \ 
and it is now in the possession of Dr. Piper [whose family 
sold it to Henry Sperling, Esq., of Dines Hall]. 


The mansion-house stands near a mile south-west form 
the church. It took its name from an ancient and 
considerable familyf which were seated here in King Edward 
the Third's reign. Afterwards, it became the Cracherode 
family that had long been settled at a place called from them 
Cracherodes, in this parish. The first of the name that hath 
occurred to us, was John Cracherode, witness to a deed, 
17th Richard II. 1393. His son Robert, was father of John, 
an Esquire under John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, at the battle 
of Azincourt. John Cracherode, Gent., son of the latter, 
married Agnes, daughter and heir of Sir John Gates, of 
Rivenhall; and had by her, John] William, Clerk of the 
Green Cloth to King Henry VIII, and Thomas, who had to 
wife Brigett, daughter of Aubrey de Vere, second son to 
John the iSth Earl of Oxford. John, the eldest son, paid 
ingress fine for Cust-hall in 1504. He married Agnes, 
daughter of Tho. Carter; and departing this life in 1534, 
was buried in the middle of this church, under a grave-stone, 

*Namely, Shoremeadow, Foxholes; a messuage, called Dudmans, 
and 70 acres of arable and meadow; two tenements, called Griggs and 
Algers; St. John's Land, &c. 

fThe Cust family was originally of Yorkshire, but long seated in 
Lincolnshire; as ma^r be seen in the Baronetage, vol. iv, p. 629, under 
the article of the Right Hon. Sir John Cust, present Speaker of the 
House of Commons. 


with an inscription. They had four sons and four daughters ; 
viz., Helen, wife of William Hunt, of Gosfeild, Gent. ; Joan, 
of John Tendring, of Boreham, Gent. ; Julian, of . . . Lee ; 
and Jane, of Peter Fitch, of Writtle, Gent. William, the 
only son whose name is recorded, married Elizabeth, daugh- 
ter of John Ray, of Denston in Suffolk. They lived 56 years 
together in wedlock. At the time of his decease, lOth 
January, 1585, he held this capital messuage, called Custs, 
and 20 acres of free land, belonging of old thereto ; also 
a messuage, anciently called Cracherodes, and afterwards 
Colman's, in this parish and in Hedingham Sible; with 
several other parcels of land ; particularly Albegeons, and 
Camois Parke, Pipers Pond, &c. He, and his wife, which 
died 17th February 1587, lie both buried in the chancel of 
this church, under a blue marble stone. They had issue 
five sons and one daughter; viz., Thomas; Matthew, of 
Cavendish; John, Charles, William. The daughter, named 
Anne, was wife of John Mootham. — Thomas^ the eldest son, 
married Anne, daughter of Robert Mordaunt, of Hemstead 
in this county, Esq., a younger branch of the Lord Mordaunt, 
of Turvey in Bedfordshire ; by whom he had William, who 
died without issue ; Thomas; and four daughters: Frances, 
married to Robert Wilkins, of Bumsted; Anne, to John 
Alston, of Belchamp-Oton ; Elizabeth, to John Fryer, of 
Paul's-Belchamp, and Barbara, to . . . Harris. He died 
14th June 1619. — Thomas, his son and heir, then aged 40 
years, married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Godbolt, of 
Finchamp in Norfolk ; John, of Cranham-hall in Romford ; 
Richard; and three daughters: Elizabeth, Brigett, and 
Susan. — Mordaunt, the eldest son, married Dorothy, daughter 
of Antony Sammes, of Hatfeild-Peverell. He died 2d of 
February 1666, and she 6th of March 1692. Both lie buried 
in this church. — ^They had issue, Thomas, baptized on the 
17th of September 1646; Antony; Mordaunt [who was a 
linen-draper of London] ; and Mary, wife of Christopher 
Layer, of Boughton-hall, Esq. Thomas, the eldest son, 
married Anne, daughter of Christopher Layer, of Belchamp 
St. Paul; by whom he had Thomas, baptized the ist of June 
1680. He was buried in this church the 8th of July 1706. 
Thomas, his son and heir, sold this maner, in 1708, to 


Colonel Stephen Piper^ mentioned a little before [whose 
family sold in to Henry Sperling, Esq., of Dines Hall]. 


Is the largest in this parish ; consisting, in time past, of 
two Knight's-fees, holden in the honor of Clare. The 
mansion-house stands near the church, and formerly had a 
park. In Edward the Confessor's reign. Got held this lord- 
ship, as lying in this parish and Stanburne, and then in two 
maners; which, at the time of the survey, belonged to 
Hamo Dapifer. How long it continued united with Stam- 
borne, we cannot certainly discover. 

Sir Ralph de Camoys,* from whom it borrowed its name, 
held it under Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hert- 
ford, in 1262, as two Knight' s-fees. He was a man of great 
note in his time; and after the taking of King Henry III, 
prisoner at the battle of Lewes, was chosen, by the discon- 
tented Barons, one of their Council of State, to govern the 
Realm.f He was also summoned to Parliament, 24th Decem- 
ber 1264. He died in 1276. — JohtiyX his son and successor, 
was father of Ralph, who gave this estate, in free-marriage 
with his daughter Ela, to Peter Gonseil, or Gonshill. This 
family was originally of Yorkshire, Giles Gonsell^ by Emin- 
entia, daughter of Fulk de Oyry, of Gedney in Lincolnshire, 
had Peter \ who, by the said Ela his wife, had Ralph and 
Margaret. Ralph dying in 1295, was succeeded by his sister, 
Margaret, who had two husbands, first, Philip le Despenser^ 
4th son of Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Gloucester. He 

*The name of Cammois is in the list of those that came in with 
William the Conqueror. — Chranu, J, Bromtan, C0L 963. 

tSee DugdaWs Baron, vol, /, /. 767. 

JThis John married Margaret, daughter and heir of Sir John de Gates- 
den; and she forsaking him, and living in adultery with Sir William Paynel, 
John de Cameys,as he calls himself, quitted all his right and title to her, as 
also to all her ^oods and chattels, spontaneously delivering and demisins^ 
her unto the said Sir William, and releasing alf title and claim to her and 
her appertenances; as appears by the deed, printed at length in Sir William 
Dugdale's Baroii. vol. i, p. 767. — After her lawful husband's decease, 
she was married to the said Sir William, and claimed thirds of Camoys 
estate; which the Parliament, out of due regard to morality and law, 
refused her, 


departing this life in 1313, she took to her second husband, 
Sir John Roos, and lived till 1349. By her first husband, 
she had Philip le Despenser; who, at the time of his decease, 
in 1349, jointly with Joane his wife, held, of the Lady of 
Clare, a tenement here called Camoy's-hall, by the service 
aforesaid. Philip, his son, by . . . daughter of . . . 
Strange, had Philip, who died in 1400; leaving, by his wife, 
Margaret Cobham, Sir Philip, his son and heir, that departed 
this life in 1423, and held this maner of Edward, Earl of 
March ; as also those of Lyndsells, Little Stambridge, and a 
fourth part of the maner of Thaxted. He married Elizabeth, 
one of the daughters and coheirs of Sir Robert Tiptoft; and 
by her he had his only daughter and heir, Margery. She 
was married, first, to Sir Roger Wentworth, third son of John 
Wentworth, of Elmes-hall in Yorkshire, Esq. a younger 
branch of the Wentworths. of Wentworth Woodhouse ; from 
whence are descended the Earls of Stratford. Her second 
husband was John Lord Rosse ; by whom she had no issue. 
But by her first husband, she had two sons ; Philip ; and 
Henry, the first of this family seated at Codham-hall ; from 
whom sprung the Wentworths, of Gosfeild and Bocking ; and 
several daughters. She died the 20th of April 1475. Sir 
Philip Wentworth, her eldest son, and heir to this estate, 
married Mary, daughter of John Lord Clifford ; and had by 
her, Sir Henry, father of Sir Richard, a Knight-Banneret ; 
who, by Anne, daughter of Sir James Tyrell, of Gipping 
in Suffolk, had Sir Thomas Wentworth, of Nettlested, created 
Baron Wentworth the 2d of December 1529. He married 
Margaret, daughter of Sir Adrian Fortescue ; and had by 
her, Thomas, Lord Wentworth, who held his first Court here 
the 1 6th of June 1551. — He had also the maners Hackney 
and Stepney; and was the last Governor of Calais under 
Queen Mary L The 4th of 13th of May 1557, he sold 
Camoys-hall to William Fitch, Esquire, of Little Canfield 
It continued little more than twenty years in his name, for 
he dying the 20th of December 1578, it came to his son 
Thomas; who surviving him but a little whjle, it then fell to 
his only daughter and heir, Mary, that had been married, 

about the year 1556, to Francis Mannock, Esq 

who died 3d of November 1590 and was succeeded by his 


son William ; whose son and heir, FranciSj was created a 
Baronet the 1st of June 1627; and had for successors, Sir 
Francis and Sir William, The latter sold this estate, the 
25th of March 171 3, to Matthias Unwin^ of Castle Hedingham, 
Gent, who died the 1 8th of September 171 5; and, by will, 
bequeathed Camoys-hall to his brother's son, Joseph, This 
latter dying in September 1747, was succeeded by his 
eldest son, Joseph Unwitiy Gent, [of Castle Hedingham.] 


Is about two miles south south-west from the church. From 
a family that existed here from 1369 to 1572, it took the 
name of Flowers. Thomas Glascock^ who died 29th October 
163 1, held the maner and capital messuage called Flowers- 
hall, Giddings, and Brownes, with appertenances, of Edward 
Benlowes, Esq, of his maner of Justices, in Finchingfield, 
by the annual rent of 8 s. one cock, one hen, and an egg and a 
half. It was afterwards Henry Glascocks* This estate paid 
quit-rent to Nortofts in Finchingfeild. 


Is denominated from an ancient knightly family, surnamed 
Gobyon, that had considerable estates at Finchingfeild, 
Bardfeild, Great Lees, Laindow, East Tilbury, &c. .... 
Sir Thomas Gobion was High Sheriff of Essex and Hertford- 
shire in 1323. . . . John Gobyon is in the list of the 
gentry of this county in 1433. Richard Gainford^ mentioned 
above, under Gaynesfords, held this maner of Gobyns in 
1483, of John Doreward, as of his maner of Great Yeldham. 
John, his brother, was his heir. It was afterwards in the 
Wentworth family. 


Formerly belonged to a family surnamed De Hausted ; from 
whom it passed to the St. Martins, and the noble family of 
Bourchier ; in which last it continued long. Some of their 

*This estate afterwards became the property of Mr. Ralph Jephson, 
by marriage with the daughter of William Raymond, of Notley. 


mesne or under-tenants were, Joane, daughter of John 
Gilderich, of Peches in Finchingfeild, about 1422 ; and John 
Helyoun, Lord of the maner of Bumstead-Helion, in 1450. 
It is described as comprehending 100 acres of arable, 8 acres 
of meadow, 8 acres of pasture, and 10 acres of wood. It 
passed since to Bendlowes, &c., as Justices in Finchingfeild. 


Near a mile sout-west from the church, was holden, about 
the year 1393, by John Bradfend or Bradfeild, from whom it 
received its name. He had also the maner of Nicholls in 
Shalford. William Tbppesfeild held it of John Durward, at 
the time of his decease, in 1480; and his two daughters, 
Elizabeth and Joane Toppesfeild, were his heirs. The latter 
brought it in marriage to . . . Paynelly and was his widow 
in 1498. The Paynell, or Pannell family, was in these parts 
as early as the reign of King Edward I, and had an estate at 
Redgewell, where John Pannell lived in 1385, and his poster- 
ity continued till the reign of King James I. Henry Pannell, 
Esq., who died the i8th of July 1573, held this maner of 
Bradfield of the Earl of Oxford, as of his maner of Berewikes, 
and other lands here. His son and heir, Henry, was then 
12 years old. [This estate afterwards passed into the hands 
of Mr. John Darby, of Little Waltham, Essex co., and at his 
death devolved to Mr. Solomon Edwards of Thackstead.]* 

♦Some curious Roman remains were found on June 28, 1800, by a 
labourer making a ditch at the bottom of Red Bamfield, belonging to 
Bradfield Farm, situate about two miles west by south of the ancient 
Roman road from Camulodunum to Camboritum, (Colchester to 

"The sword blade, which was very much corroded and broken in 
two or three places, lay across the breast of the skeleton found 
therewith; it was rather a singular situation, for in general they are 
found by the side of the person interred. 

The metal vase zad patera merit attention. The vase was of that 
form which Montfaucon calls a precefericulum used by the Romans at 
their sacrifices for pouring wine mto the patera. 

The uses of the elegant little cups of Samian ware, one of which 
has an ornamented border, have not, that I can find, been ascertained. 
As they were interred with the corpse we may suppose them to 
have contained holy oil, gums, balsams, unguents, &c., but this is 
conjecture only. The real purposes to which thev were applied must 
remain at present in obscurity; we only know tnat such things were 



Olivers is an ancient capital messuage in this parish, 
about three quarters of a mile south-east from the church. 
John Oliver purchased an estate of JohndeRaclesden, about 
1360, which is supposed to have been this. He was one of 
Sir. John Hawkwood's Esquires, companions, and fellow- 
warriors; and concerned in founding his Chantry.* 

Richard Simon was possessed, in 1627, of this tenement, 
called Olivers and Dudmans, and, in 163 1, Thomas Glascock, 
above mentioned, had a messuage, and 12 acres of land 
thereto belonging, called Olivers ; f with Ashleies and Gadleies, 
two other parcels. Here were in this parish two acres and 
a half of land, called MoUe, given for one obit and a lamp ; 

used at their funeral obsequies, particularly unguents and perfumes of 
several kinds for anointing the body before interment; therefore we may 
conclude that thev were used at the funeral, and were afterwards 
deposited with the body, according to the custom of the ancients. 

Only one Roman coin was found, and that very imperfect. 
Whether it was the obolus^ the naulum Charontis^ is left for others to 
determine. A nail and a handle of a bronze patera were found at the 
same \\m!t,^'*'-'Arch(Bologia^ vol xiv^pp, 24-26, 2 plates^ London^ 1803. 

*The friends and executors of Sir. John Hawkwood founded a famous 
chantry^ for one Chaplain in the church of Hedingham, to pray for the 
souls of Sir John Hawkwood, Thomas Oliver, and John Newenton, 
Esquires, his military companions, supposed to be bom in this county. 
The license for this foundation was in 141 2; and the endowment 
consisted of 4 messuages, 4 tofts, 420 acres of arable, 13 acres of meadow, 
20 of pasture, 4 of wood, 22 of alder, and 12 s. rent, in Sible and Castle 
fiengham, Gosfeild, Mapiltrested, Great and Little Gelham, and Toppes- 
feild. The house where the Chantrv Priest lived stands at some dis- 
tance from the church, and bore tnen, and still bears, the name of 
Hostage; having originally been a charitable foundation for the enter- 
tainment of devout Pilgrims. The patronage of this chantry belonged 
to the Lord of the maner of Hawkwoods. 

fThis estate was occupied at one time, by Samuel S^ononds, gent., 
who came to New England, in 1637, and settled at Ipswich, where the 
town granted him a farm of five hundred acres, lying partly within the 
present bounds of Topsfield. This farm was known on the records as 
"Olivers." See antSypp, /^Oy ^i. 

The familv of Symonds was originally of Croft in Lancashire, where 
they continuea in a direct line for about twenty generations. Richard 
Symonds of the third generation was seated in Great Yeldham, at "The 
Pool," on the eastern bank of the river Colne. He married, Jan. 9, 1 580, 
Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Plumb, of Yeldham Hall. Samuel, the 
third son, married Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Harlakenden, of Earl's- 
Colne; was a Cursitor in Chancery; and had Oliver's in Toppesfield; but 
retired to New England with his family. Morant. 


with about three acres more ; which, at the suppression of 
Chantries, were granted to Thomas Golding, Esq. Samuel 
Hurrell, John Piper, Geffrey Cook, Matthias and Edmund 
Davey, Tho. Orford, and Tho. Teader, have also estates 
here. This parish is rated to the land-tax at 1692 ;^. i s. 4 d. 
The Church, dedicated to St. Margaret, is tolerably 
handsome and spacious. It was formerly, all leaded ; but 
is now only so in part. The chancel is tiled. About 70 
years ago, the tower, which was built of flint and stone fell 
down; but hath since been rebuilt, of brick, in a firm and 
substantial manner ; towards which, Mr. Wilde, Rector at 
the time it fell, bequeathed 100 ;^. To it belong five bells. 
Here was, anciently, a rectory and vicarage ; of both which, 
the Prior and Convent of Stoke near Clare, whilst a priory, 
and when a college, the Dean and Chapter, were patrons. 
In what year, and by whom given to them, is unknown. 
The rectory was a sinecure ; and so continued, till Thomas 
Kemp, Bishop of London, finding the vicarage was grown so 
poor* that it could not maintain a Vicar, or discharge the bur- 
dens incumbent thereon, so that it had been vacant and neg- 
lected several years, he reunited and incorporated again the 
rectory and vicarage. At the dissolution of religious houses, 
the patronage of this rectory coming to the Crown, King 
Edward VI. gave it to his proeceptor. Sir John Cheke ; upon 
whose unhappy fall, it reverted to the Crown, and hath re- 
mained in it ever since ; it being a considerable living. There 
are lands of about six pounds a year, belonging to the church. 

TOPPESFIELD, Eng. * * * "I found the ride exceed- 
ingly pleasant, along the narrow but excellent ,road, which 
winds its way through an unbroken succession of luxuriant 
cornfields and meadows. * * * It was evening when I 
arrived, and the *Green Man Inn* received me. This is a 
small, but neat and comfortable tavern, and bears the marks 

♦At the petition of William Parker then rector, with the consent of 
the dean and chapter of St. Paul, and the arch-deacon of Middlesex. 


of a respectable antiquity. It is, in fact, just such a place 
as the ale-house of Goldsmith's poem, and has been, I 
presume, the nightly resort of the Toppesfield politicians, 
for at least two hundred years. 

When I went out the next morning, I found myself in a 
small village, composed of stone cottages, mostly plastered, 
white-washed and thatched. I saw nothing in them particu- 
larly pleasing, beyond that aspect of neatness, and those 
floral adornings, which rarely desert even the meanest rural 
home in that beautiful country. My first visit was to the 
church of St. Margaret. * * * The interior interested me 
much. A place of worship more rude in aspect, or less 
adapted to comfort, it would, I am sure, be difficult to find 
in all New England. * * * The pews are narrow, upright 
boxes, with high sides, and, with the exception of the 
Rector's, are uncushioned and uncarpeted, a few of them, 
however, were supplied with straw covered hassocks. Upon 
the southern side there are four Gothic arches, which rest 
upon short thick columns. On this side there is a low 
gallery, erected, as an inscription shows, in 1833. The 
pulpit and reading desk are on the opposite side. These are 
of oak, and the former resembles, in shape and appearance, 
that interesting relic, the old Capen pulpit. * * * [In the 
church registers I found] the name of Samuel Symonds, gent, 
and that of Dorothy his wife. Between 1621 and 1633, I 
found and copied the baptisms of ten of their children. * * * 
The Parsonage is a charming residence, surrounded by 
flowers and shrubbery, and smooth-shaven lawns. The 
present incumbent lives among his people and seems to be 
regarded with respect and affection. * * * Here I was in 
a community of several hundred people, not a man of whom 
owns one rood of the land which he cultivates — not an 
individual of whom possesses the house that shelters him. 
These skillful farmers are tenants at will — and are perpetually 
struggling under an oppressive burden of rents, and tythes, 
and taxes, and rates. These hardy laborers think they do 
well, if their toil yields them the average remuneration of a 
shilling a day. As to religious privileges they have indeed 
a sitting, hired or free, in yonder rude church. Their Rector, 
sent them by the Queen, may be a good man, or he may 


not. With the question of his appointment or dismission, 
they have just as much concern as you have. They are, 
however, permitted to pay him. From that glebe, which is 
made so rich by their sweat, he draws an annual stipend, three 
times as large as that which you raise for your two clergy- 
men. And here, in a parish which pays its Rector more 
than thirty-five hundred dollars a year, — ^here within four 
hours ride of the grand metropolis of the world, here, in the 
middle of the nineteenth century, a free school is a thing 
which yet remains to be invented." — Nekemiak Cleaveland^ 
in Salem Register^ Nov. /^ff/. 

TOPPESFIELD, Eng. * * * "At Yeldham the only cab 
we could find was a little dog-cart with a Welch pony that 
hardly came up to the shafts. However, this was all that 
was necessary and the owner told us he would take us for 
two shillings if we 'didn't think that much would harm us.' 
He proved himself capable of giving considerable informa- 
tion about the church and the chapels (as Congregational and 
Methodist churches are called in England) as his father had 
been Parish Clerk at Yeldham for a good many years, but 
when I asked him the origin of the name Toppesfield his 
answer was : *Well, that's a question I could hardly answer, 
Sir. They must-a-caught it as it come along. Come by a 
whirlwind perhaps.' Mr. Lane, the genial teacher of the 
parish, told us that the only reason he could find was from 
the fact of its being the topmost village in the shire. * * * 
We had been informed that some years before, a gentleman 
from Topsfield, America, had come to see the graves of his 
ancestors ; the woman who told us could not remember the 
name, and so we mentioned over the names of Cleveland, 
Peabody, Bradstreet, thinking it might be some of these, but 
none of them seemed familiar. Finally the mother came in 
and said : 'Why, it was the one who had six wives, Joseph 
Smith* was the name.' 

^Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, was of Topsfield ftnoestry. 
The Smith referred to may have been a descendant, 


The present school was built in 1856 by the then Rector, 
Rev. Mr. Gooch. It has accommodations for two hundred 
children and has one hundred and forty names on the 
register." — Rev. Lyndon S. Crawford, in Salem GazetUy 
Nov. 25, 1886. 

TOPPESFIELD, Eng. * * * "All the fields are separated 
by hedges and these are generally well kept. The whole 
country looks neat and tidy. * * * The village was but a 
handful of houses along a narrow road or two, without any 
sidewalks to speak of. We left our traps at the *Green Man' 
inn and got a glass of home brew, rather sour and not very 
good. * * * The Church itself is not at all large, and 
would hardly seat two hundred persons. It was built early 
in the i6th century, and has been very well preserved. 
Even during the Commonwealth, it was not much disturbed. 
It is one of the very few parishes whose records are kept 
throughout that period without a break. We were assured 
that that was a very unusual circumstance." — Brandreth 
Symonds, in Essex County Mercury, Oct. 24., 18^4. 

TOPPESFIELD, Eng. * * * In approaching Toppesfield, 
the high hills of the town come into view before the train 
leaves you in the valley. The station building might be 
called a primitive one : — old, dilapidated, and inconvenient. 
Nevertheless it serves for the transaction of the limited business 
of a small country station. The village is about one and a 
half miles from the station, if one takes the short cut across 
the fields on foot in a direct line. The road makes a detour 
in a southerly and southwesterly and then in a northwesterly 
course to avoid the steep acclivity, and covers about two miles 
before reaching the village. The way for the most part is a 
gentle ascent, — one rise of many rods being steeper than the 


We first reach that part of the village where the rectory 
is located. It is large and commodious for a place of the 
size of that in which it is situated. The building is almost 
entirely obscured by shade trees, shrubbery and evergreen. 
Passing on some twenty or thirty rods, in a northerly direc- 
tion, going by several dwellings we come to the end of the 
street that we have traversed. Here we meet another street 
lying east and west, — the principal street of the village. Near 
the right hand corner is St. Margaret's — the parish church. 
Farther on to the right is the school house. Near the left hand 
corner is a chapel where the Nonconformists worship. To 
the westward some rods, is the post-office. 

I did not explore the whole village, but it will be seen 
by the location of the public buildings that I was in the 
central and most important part of it. St. Margaret's Church 
has been an active force in the village for eight hundred 
years. . . . The interior as well as the exterior has all the 
marks of an old structure. Few changes have been made in 
modern times that conceal its ancient appearance. * * * A 
tablet on the wall of the interior has a list of rectors extend- 
ing back three hundred years and more, I transcribed 
some of the names that may be interesting to Topsfield 
people. 1 559, Thomas Donnell, B. D. ; 1601, William Smith ; 
1604, Randolph Davenport; 1662, Nathaniel Ward; 1691, 
Thomas Willett; 1694, Robert Wilde. 

A curious fact to be noticed in the list of rectors is that 
in the days of the Commonwealth there is a break in the list 
with a statement that there was a vacancy in those years. 
Although there was no "rector," doubtless there was preach- 
ing in the church by Dissenters in that interval. The church 
stands in the midst of, and is entirely surrounded by the 
churchyard. The small cemetery is still in use for burials. 
I noticed that they were opening graves in what appeared to 
be the oldest part of the yard. The inscriptions on the 
oldest monuments are illegible as well they might be in a 
cemetery eight hundred years old. I noticed the monument 
of Henry Howlett, who died in 1773, aged T2. 

The chapel of the Nonconformists I did not enter. It is 
a very plain and unpretending building. 


The post office is in the house of the post master. 
Apartments of modest proportions are set apart for the 
government office. There is no room for the floating popu- 
lation of the town to assemble in for social intercourse, to talk 
over the news of the day, and enjoy the village gossip. In 
fact if there was such a place in the village I failed to dis- 
cover it. 

The housies, barns, and out-buildings are generally built 
of brick. The style of architecture is ^ot pretentious. There 
is not the facility for architectural display in small brick 
buildings, that there is by working in wood. I noticed here 
as well as through England, as far as I travelled, the pro- 
jecting second story of old houses, like that of our own 
Capen house. One house in particular, better than the 
average, in the old style, I was informed was a modern built 
house. They have a way in England, and I think to a great 
extent, of building after the style of several hundred years 
ago, to have the buildings conform those in the neigh- 

The most of the people, I suppose, would be reckoned 
in the middle class. Some as indigent or poor. The better 
classes have comfortable homes, and show intelligence and 

Toppesfield is especially an agricultural town. It has a 
good soil. The soil of Essex is not as fertile as that of some 
other parts of the kingdom. I heard Englishmen in speak- 
ing of the county, say that the land in Essex is poor. Such 
may be the case as far as the county in general is considered, 
but I think an exception must be made in the case of the 
plateau upon which Toppesfield is situated; for there the 
farmers were harvesting good crops and the land was making 
abundant returns for the labor and skill of the husbandmen ; 
much better probably than the average of the county. The 
principal crops are wheat, barley, vegetables and hay. Being 
remote from any large town, market gardening is not carried 
on. Much of the hay crop is stacked in the fields where it 
is gathered, as it is in other parts of England. I noticed 
stacks that had breasted the storms of one or more winters, 
notwithstanding the great demand for forage on account of 
the wars in which the nation was engaged. The barley 


product IS largely used for malt to brew the universal English 
beer. It was wheat harvest when I was there. I saw an 
abundant yield of wheat on the highest land in the village, 
as large, I should judge, as that of the most fertile parts of 
the island. The parish of St. Margeret's has some of the 
best land in the place, I do not know how many acres, some 
of which is divided into small "allotments," each of an acre 
or less, one half, one quarter, or one eighth of an acre. 
These are let, at a low rental, to indigent people of the parish 
who have no land, the proceeds of which go to help other 
poor people. 

The following Toppesfield names taken from the voting 
list are of interest as being common to our own Topsfield 
and vicinity: — Allen. Barker, Barnes, Clarke, Davison, Hale, 
Hardy, Palmer, Reed, Rice, Smith, Wilson. 

Justin Allen^ M, /?., March /j, /90/.